"Wrestling with God" book with Barbara Falconer Newhall

Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith

"Any seeker of any faith will be blessed to read the words of this fine author and observer."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Click to learn more about "Wrestling with God"

Cheap Thrills at the Glasmuseum Passau — Outrageous, Over-the-Top Decorative Glass.

Rich, meticulous design from Josephine Glassworks, Silesia, circa 1898-1905. Photo by Barbara Newhal

Rich, meticulous design from Josephine Glassworks, Silesia, circa 1898-1905. Jugendstil-Art Nouveau. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Spotted at the labyrinthine Glasmuseum Passau — wonderfully outrageous, phantasmagoric decorative glass. Gotta share it with you. Take a look. Cheap thrills.

Yeah. Yeah. I’m definitely indulging in a bit of smug irony here. The folks [Read more…]

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Retired Is a State of Mind — Six Ways to Know If You’re There Yet

How to know when you're retired. You're on a  trail alongside Bon Tempe Lake in Marin county, California. Photo by Barbara Newhall

On the trail around Bon Tempe Lake: That barely visible orange speck at the upper right is my hiking buddy. No doubt  I wasted some time taking photos, and she got way ahead of me. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Retired is a state of mind. Not a state of paycheck, or work schedule, or commute, or how much time you spend at the office.

I work full time. Forty hours a week, these days. Sixty maybe. But some time ago, I realized [Read more…]

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Was That Old Testament God Just Trying to Keep Us in the Game?

Monopoly game board. Old testament God.

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

People like to grumble about the out-datedness of the Bible in general, and of the very male, very judgmental Old Testament God in particular. But that fiery, ancient God of Hebrew Scripture has at least one redeeming quality, one he shares with my son Peter.

When Peter was four or five years old, he spent an afternoon with a little friend who was developmentally disabled. Peter was ready to play that afternoon. That is to say, Peter was ready to play – with somebody.

I watched my son try strategy after strategy to engage the other little boy. Patiently, he set aside one superhero figure after another, one truck, one train, one pile of blocks until at last he had found something that held the other boy’s attention and allowed the two of them to interact genuinely as friends.

Peter Newhall engaged in a fierce tug of of war game. Like the Old Testament God. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Peter at age 8. He didn’t give up easily, like the Old Testament God. Photo by Barbara Newhall

A few years after that, Peter discovered Monopoly. He was good at the game and, if he was playing with me, Park Place and St. James Place soon fell under his purview, and my stack of bills quickly dwindled to a few tens and a couple fifties.

At this point, I’d be ready to quit and get back to the kitchen, but Peter wanted to keep on going. He wanted to play – with somebody.

To keep me in the game, my son would stake me to atrociously large loans. His generosity was beyond reason – but it kept the game alive until dinner time or bedtime finally intervened.

Redeeming That Old Testament God

The God of Genesis is a lot like Peter. Crusty and angry and judgmental though he was much of the time, he had one endearing quality: he wanted to interact with humans — with somebody.

In Genesis 9, for example, when human beings mess up, the Old Testament God sends a massive flood and gives creation a fresh start. He quickly recognizes, however, that these creatures of his are bound to mess up again. It won’t be long before humanity is reduced once more to the moral equivalent of a few tens and a couple fifties.

To keep creation in the game, God ties one hand behind his back: he promises never to use the flood punishment again.

That old God, like little Peter, didn’t give up easily.

More about Peter at “When Your Six-Year-Old Wants to Talk Money.”  More about God at “John Shelby Spong: Christianity (Some of It) Is Bunk”  More about my new book at WrestlingWithGodBook.com.

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Confessions of a So-So Wife: The Night I Forgot to Make Dinner

Jon Newhall takes a class in Thai cooking in Bangkok and shows off his dish. Photo by Jon Newhall

When the kids were older, Jon and I traveled to Thailand, where he took a class in Thai cooking and I went shopping. Photo by Jon Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall, The Oakland Tribune, June 14, 1987

It was going to be the dinner hour of my dreams, the married life I had imagined for myself as a girl back in suburban Detroit.

The table would be set, the chicken roasted to golden perfection. The children, [Read more…]

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At Orinda Books: The Author Talked — And So Did the Audience

Author Barbara Falconer Newhall and interviewee Sister Barbara Hazzard gave a book talk at Orinda Books in Orinda, California, May 16, 2015. Photo by Jon Newhall

Hesed Community founder Sister Barbara Hazzard, right, joined me for a book talk at Orinda Books yesterday. Photo by Jon Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Maybe it was the coffee we served. Maybe it was the chocolate chip cookies. Maybe it was something about the self-selected score of people who decided to spend their Saturday afternoon listening to the author read from Wrestling with God.

Or perhaps it had to do with the welcoming ambiance that owners Maria and Danny Roden have established for authors and readers in the months since they took [Read more…]

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